What started out like any other day, ended with you in a lot of pain. While in your car waiting in traffic, the driver behind you failed to pay attention and slammed into the back of your vehicle. At first, you felt okay so you refused medical treatment. It's only been a few hours, but now your body is singing a different tune. You have whiplash, which is a common injury following a rear-end collision.
Rear-end collisions happen all too frequently on Maryland roads. While the injuries associated with such accidents can vary, whiplash is the most commonly seen. It may not sound like anything too horrible, but it can be -- especially if not treated properly.
What causes whiplash?
Whiplash occurs when your head is violently forced in a backward and then forward motion. This jerking motion causes the ligaments and muscles to stretch beyond their normal limits, causing injury. The common symptoms seen with whiplash are pain in the upper back, neck and shoulder areas. However, some people may also experience:
- Muscle spasms
- Trouble swallowing or chewing
If a whiplash injury is severe enough, damage to the some of the spinal discs and various nerves can occur.
Diagnosis and treatment
If you refused medical treatment immediately following a rear-end collision, but start experiencing symptoms of injury hours, days or weeks after the fact, seeking medical assistance is strongly advised. Whiplash, or any other injury, cannot be treated if you fail to receive a medical diagnosis.
To diagnose whiplash, your medical provider will ask you questions about how your injury occurred and what symptoms you are experiencing. After that, a physical examination will occur and your doctor may order imaging tests in order to get a clear view of the injured area.
There are several ways to treat whiplash. Injury severity will determine the course of treatment. Common treatments include:
- Cervical collar brace
- Physical therapy
- Alternative treatments
Severe cases of whiplash sometimes require surgery; however, this often serves as a last resort. Medical providers try to avoid anything too invasive if they can.
If you suffered injuries in a rear-end collision, you may seek compensation for your losses by filing a civil claim against the responsible party. You may receive monetary damages through litigation or out-of-court negotiations.